I thought I’d heard enough about the Texas Republican Party’s platform that rejects the teaching of critical thinking skills until I heard Stephen Colbert’s take on it.
I wrote about this recently here, quoting from the platform:
Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
After this was ridiculed, Texas GOP Communications Director Chris Elam told TPM.com that it was a mistake and that opposition to “critical thinking” wasn’t supposed to be part of the platform. Since a party convention approved the platform, it can’t just be dropped, he said. Sure thing.
Colbert returned to “The Colbert Report” from vacation this week and couldn’t resist taking a hilarious shot at this as part of a piece that is described on the show’s website like this: “The minds of young people are being poisoned by knowledge, but thankfully Texas is the Large Hadron Collider of denying science.”
Here’s some of his bit:
..The minds of our young people are being poisoned by knowledge... I have long praised the Texas Board of Education for their valiant work rewriting our nation’s history textbooks. But now I believe they’ve got some stiff competition from the Texas GOP, who recently put a plank in their 2012 party platformn regarding children’s education which says, and I quote, ‘We oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills.’ Amen brother. For too long we have blindly accepted the idea of not blindly accepting ideas.
“And you know who I blame? I blame Galileo.... For centuries we had a perfectly good explanation for the order of the universe. Bible says the sun goes around the Earth, making us the center of the universe. And you know what? Everyone was happy. And then numnuts over here gets a telescope for Christmas, uses his precious critical thinking skills and suddenly the Earth goes around the sun, blah blah blah and now we have lesbians.
I’m here to tell you now the Texas GOP is on to you, critical thinking skills! They know that you have quote the purpose of challenging the students’ fixed beliefs, and a good teacher’s job is to maintain whatever fixed beliefs a student has when they enter first grade.
Frankly folks, I am embarrassed that we conservatives did not think of this sooner.... Sure,we discredited the liberal activism of the ‘60s and the socialist policies of the New Deal... But folks, all of that is just child’s play compared to the Texas GOP, who with this one plank of their platform have called for the repeal of the Enlightenment.
And as if to illustrate what is possible once you are freed from the shackles of critical thinking... The Texas GOP, when asked about this position, explained it as an oversight and should not have included the words ‘critical thinking skills.’
Now, when they were drafting the platform, somebody had to say ‘no critical thinking skills.’ Somebody else had to type those words and then the Texas GOP had to approve those words. Do you really think that would have been possible if anybody had been thinking critically? But thank God no one was. And if they get their way, nobody will be...
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